Today I ran into a woman at the pharmacy counter – one of those chance happenings. She sounded like she was Swiss – and she was – so that engendered conversation since I’ve had a number of Swiss friends. Such a bubbly person despite having a multiplicity of health problems. I felt bad that someone so young* would have such a plethora of disabling or life endangering conditions. Then she dropped a bombshell about serious medical neglect, if not outright malpractice (I don’t do med-mal so what do I know?). What shocked me was her belief that her husband could prevent her from seeing a lawyer and suing.
Mind you, I am a random meeting, a chance person. She did not know me or the fact I practice law. I went into lawyer mode and told her that while I don’t do torts or med mal that certainly she could pursue her claim with a lawyer without the permission of her husband. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations had long since passed and heaven only knows if she had a case or not – I certainly do not. What bothered me was her belief that since he was a citizen and she just a resident spouse it was his decision.
NEWS FLASH! No one has to be a citizen to see a lawyer or file suit if they’ve been injured. They may have no case, they may chose not to pursue it, but they do not need spousal permission to at least find out what their rights are. So if you are a resident alien in the US, even an undocumented one, it does not mean you have no rights to seek legal counsel. The answer may be “no” to the question, but you have the right to ask it.
*At the end of our conversation I found out this “young” woman was 79 years old. I almost dropped my teeth. She looks younger than I do and I’m told I have a baby face.